GUWAHATI, July 1 � Terming the restoration of the World Heritage Site (WHS) status on Manas National Park as a commendable achievement, Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain today said that the State Government would leave no stone unturned to maintain it as an ideal wildlife habitat and destination.
Manas was placed as a WHS (in danger) in 1992 in the middle of a decade-long social unrest which did considerable harm to its wildlife and flora. The danger tag was removed last month following a declaration to that effect by UNESCO�s World Heritage Committee which was satisfied with the progress made by the park in terms of return of wildlife and management.
Hussain, who was addressing the inaugural function of the 62nd Vana Mahotsav at Rabindra Bhawan, said that of the 20 heritage sites in danger across the world, only Manas was deemed fit for restoration of its earlier status, which is a recognition of the concerted efforts made by the Forest Department together with NGOs and local communities for regaining the lost glory of Manas.
�Manas is well into the recovery path which is corroborated by the growing number of different wildlife. Following the translocation drive, it now has 11 rhinos while the elephant count recorded 945 pachyderms,� Hussain revealed.
Terming afforestation as a major thrust area of the Forest Department, the minister said that 15 lakh saplings had been distributed among schoolchildren in the past few years sine the launching of the Seuji Dhora project.
He also said that the State had a forest cover of 37.33 per cent as against the mandatory 33 per cent.
�We are increasingly involving schoolchildren in plantation drives as the success rate of such drives is much higher compared to those implemented by the Forest Department alone,� Hussain said.
Hussain also said that efforts were on to check loss of forest cover in the two hill districts of NC Hills and Karbi Anglong caused by jhum (shifting) cultivation.